Tenant Dies on Staircase?

Tenant Dies on Staircase?

10:39 AM, 15th June 2021, About 2 months ago 9

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My tenant friend and work colleague fell and died on his Landlord’s Stairs. This is the letter that I propose sending to the local council.

“During the Christmas week of 2020, T fell down the exterior iron stairs at Flat 35b **********, which gives access to a number of bedsits (usually termed as HMOs). He was airlifted to hospital and died of severe head injuries shortly after.

“The local community police officer arranged a meeting with T’s wife, me (friend/employer) and the owner plus one of the other occupants. The community officer, Ms PCSO and I were let in by one of the occupiers. The Landlord did not even have the decency to turn up!
On inspection, I noticed that there were a number of rooms at this – third-floor level – and when questioned the occupier reluctantly confirmed that they were all occupied. I asked him some other questions about the tenure, but he refused to answer and repaired to his room.

“I discussed the health and safety issue with the PCSO but she said that she was only there to get us in and observe while T’s wife retrieved some of his personal possessions.

“I assumed, incorrectly it seems, that an official inquiry would be set up by the police.

“This 4-level building clearly comes under the HMO regulations if let out and flat B clearly had 4 let out rooms.

“Additionally, T gave Mr Occupier (a tenant acting as Landlord’s agent) a £390 deposit which after the accident, £90 was heartlessly deducted to cover the cost of carpet cleaning and non-return of the keys (which in fact were being held back by the police).”

My question is; the deposit does not appear to have been registered in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme and therefore is his beneficiary entitled to 3 times the deposit plus the full deposit because of this oversight?

Also, does the Landlord or acting Landlord have a legal obligation to perform certain functions, one of which is to protect the deposit & provide the prescribed information alongside that protection? And does not protecting the deposit mean that there are no circumstances under which T can keep ANY of it and is maybe liable to penalties?

Additionally, there are twenty steps in all, which include one unequally spaced concrete step at ground level, 15 open backed and 4 at the top – with enclosed backs – leading to the only landing. There are no yellow nosings. https://imgur.com/a/Jfrmkgv illustrates
I found this on the internet, which might help my case;

EXTERNAL STAIRCASES AND STEPS

● Staircases and steps should be constructed and be in such a condition to prevent occupants tripping or falling. Staircases should have adequate handrails, guarding and lighting. There should be no projections into or obstruction on a staircase.

● Staircases should be protected from adverse weather conditions and should be of a non-slip nature. There should be no open risers on staircases.

I am a retiring Landlord myself and apart from not installing safety landings, registering the deposit and HMO. I wouldn’t dream of making a deduction of any kind when the tenant had only resided with me for less than 2-weeks and fell down my stairs.

I would appreciate your comments on where I should go from here.

Thanks.

Neil T



Comments

by Chris @ Possession Friend

11:15 AM, 15th June 2021, About 2 months ago

@Neil
If you are a Tenant or related to a past tenant and have concerns, the Local Authority is your point of contact.

by Ian Narbeth

11:50 AM, 15th June 2021, About 2 months ago

Neil T, sorry for your loss.

I think you should focus on whether there was an HMO licence in place and whether the staircase had trip hazards or was poorly lit contributing to the fall your friend had. Is the photograph of the actual staircase? Your description suggests a serious problem.

With respect, the deposit is a side issue. The landlord or manager may be guilty of involuntary manslaughter so making an issue about the deposit is distracting. Yes, the deduction for cleaning is bad but concentrate on what is important - the loss of life. Ask the HSE and the police to investigate.

by NEIL T

14:01 PM, 15th June 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 15/06/2021 - 11:50
Thanks for your kind comment, Ian.
No, the stairs shown are a stock photo put on by Admin. I did put a link but they deleted it. Maybe for legal or policy reasons. Here is the link again; https://imgur.com/a/Jfrmkgv the picture says it all but I’ll understand if they remove it again.
No real trip hazard unless the open risers count as... The lighting is poor; one low wattage lamp at the top. I'll contact the police again, HSE and my local councillor and I'll let our readers know the result when I get one.

by NEIL T

14:05 PM, 15th June 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris @ Possession Friend at 15/06/2021 - 11:15
Yes, Chris, I'll do that.
I don't like bashing fellow "professional" landlords but I'm not too sure how professional these people are.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

14:17 PM, 15th June 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by neilt at 15/06/2021 - 14:05Quite Neil, and neither I, absolutely. I'm as valiant a defender of landlords as you'll likely find.
Most on here know that.
However, that said, I help Landlords who've made mistakes or been 'caught out' by something, but I never find that the few truly Rogue landlords approach me.
Most, if not all of us on here ( like yourself ) have no time for them. They are cannon fodder - ammunition for Tenant support groups and govt to use punitive measures, such as Licensing that punish all landlords. ( and if tenants only realised it, them also ! )
But for the benefit of the tenant stooges who monitor this site ( and they do, make no mistake ) if a tenant suspects flagrant illegality that has contributed to a tenants death ! - then the only proper advice is to consult the appropriate authority.

by David Rose

20:42 PM, 16th June 2021, About 2 months ago

Sorry to hear this and can't comment on most of it, but the deposit protection depends on the type of agreement the tenant has. If it's not an AST then AFAIK the deposit doesn't need to be protected, in fact for some tenancy types it can't be protected.

by David Rose

21:06 PM, 16th June 2021, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by neilt at 15/06/2021 - 14:01
It is the job of a coroner to investigate the cause of death etc. The police should have informed the local coroner as the death was unexpected.
The coroner will then open an investigation.

https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/when-a-death-is-reported-to-a-coroner

by Jessie Jones

8:36 AM, 19th June 2021, About a month ago

Neil, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your friend in what appear to be awful circumstances.
A landlord has 30 days to protect the deposit and serve the paperwork on the tenant. You say that your friend had been a tenant for less than 2 weeks so it sounds like the Landlord wasn't necessarily at fault there.
Those stairs look more like a fire escape than stairs that are designed to be used on a daily basis. Are they the fire escape for an HMO, or are they the only access route for a single flat? It would be interesting to learn what the council's view is regarding HHSRS compliance.
If those stairs give access to just the single flat then the property might not be subject to HMO regs.
In any event, it does sound like you have good questions that need to be answered, and the HMO licensing dept at your local council would be the best starting point.

by Martin S

22:59 PM, 19th June 2021, About a month ago

Hi. What exactly are you looking to achieve? To me it sounds like the priority is to protect those who continue to live at the property, as evidently all is not well there. As somebody else suggested, the deposit is a side issue, and wont bring your friend back.

As for speaking to the Police, unless an actual crime has been committed, then there is little they can do. The truth is that people die all the time from slips, trips and falls, and unless foul play is suspected, they wont be tied up with such situations.

As this has clearly been an accident, then the Coroner will have been informed, and an autopsy will automatically take place to confirm cause(s) of death.

Without doubt, you need to speak to the Local Council, and to the local Councillors, who in my experience are always looking to enthusiastically take up cases like these, and can often cut through the red tape. That's what they are there for, and don't underestimate their powers.

Send them a clear, concise, version of events and concerns in writing, plus an e-mail cover, plus the outcome(s) you would like to see. If this had been on my patch, I would have been out there pronto to investigate, as this could quite easily happen again from what you say.


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